Team Peugeot Hansen overcame the pressure of performing in front of 65,000 home fans at Lohéac to dominate France’s round of the 2015 FIA World Rallycross Championship. Timmy Hansen earned the 208 WRX’s fourth victory and eighth podium finish of the season.
Competing at Lohéac, one of rallycross’s most celebrated venues, is always something special, especially for Peugeot which was in front of a home audience. The pressure was palpable at the ninth round of the championship, beginning with a big turnout for Friday’s parade through the town where the French squad was given vociferous support. Expectations couldn’t have been higher and the team knew it was important to rise to the occasion.
The response of Timmy Hansen, winner of the last round in Norway, was to take control of the weekend’s first two qualifying heats with an impressive display which culminated in a sensational drive on Heat 2 when he masterfully shrugged off pressure from the reigning world champion Petter Solberg. He then took care of his tyres during the third and fourth heats while making sure of pole position for his semi-final.
The Swede produced a perfect run in his semi-final, making full use of the 208 WRX’s form to claim first place on the grid for the final. The latter saw him get away well to emerge in front from the outset, allowing him to escape the virile jostling in the chasing pack. The team’s impeccable strategy then did the rest to help Timmy produce six faultless laps that ensured his second win of the year, and the fourth for Team Peugeot Hansen.
Unfortunately, the weekend didn’t go so well for his French team-mate Davy Jeanney. Despite the noisy backing of the home crowd, the winner of the summer’s earlier rounds in Estering and Canada suffered a variety of setbacks during the heats phase. He survived to gain a place in the semi-finals, however, but failed to finish after being forced off the track by another competitor.
Even so, the points he scored, plus those harvested by Timmy Hansen, enabled Team Peugeot Hansen to go further clear at the top in the Teams’ standings in which its margin over Ford Olsberg MSE now stands at 53 points. Meanwhile, Timmy Hansen has gone even closer to Petter Solberg in the Drivers’ championship and is looking forward to the next round in two weeks’ time at the F1 circuit near Barcelona, a first for the FIA World Rallycross Championship.
Kenneth Hansen, Team Principal
“It was an absolutely fantastic weekend for the whole team. We prepared very thoroughly for Lohéac where we were expecting strong home support, but we were hardly expecting the enormous backing we received. Davy’s got an incredible fan club! Our strategy was well planned and we stuck to it, although Davy had a little trouble getting into the swing. Maybe the pressure affected him a bit. He still showed good pace but, unfortunately, his run ended abruptly at the semi-final stage. As for Timmy, he was quick out of the box, and feeling very confident, too. He coped well with the pressure in his semi-final and also in the final to notch up his second straight victory. It’s a dream come true to have won at Lohéac for Peugeot!”
Timmy Hansen, #21 208 WRX, winner
“I can’t find words to describe how good it feels to have won in France with Peugeot! The French love French cars and I was thrilled with the support they gave me. Everyone at Team Peugeot Hansen worked hard for this race. I think the fans realised that and they believed in our chances. I did my best to pay them back in the best way possible. That said, it was a tough couple of days out on the track. Tyres play a very important role at Lohéac and we tried to manage them as best we could. In the fourth heat, my 208 WRX ran like a dream. In the final, I did four or five laps absolutely flat out and reaching speeds like that at a circuit like Lohéac is an incredible sensation. I took the time to savour the moment during the last lap!”
Davy Jeanney, #17 208 WRX
“The weekend didn’t go as I had hoped. It started with a small mistake in the first heat which cost me dearly because I was then in the bad batch for the other heats. I think that’s why I punctured in Heat 4. I still managed to qualify for the semi-final and I got away to a good start, but on the outside. Next time round, though, I was punted off by another car and, at that sort of speed, it’s impossible to regain control of the car. I hit a guard-rail head-on and there was no way I could have continued after that. The team now faces a big job to get the car ready in time for Barcelona.”
Final positions – Round 9 (France - Loheac) – Septembre 05-06, 2015
1. Timmy Hansen (Team Peugeot Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX)
2. Petter Solberg (SDRX, Citroën DS3)
3. Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (Citroën C4)
4. Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Team Sweden, Volkswagen Polo)
5. Mattias Ekström (EKS, Audi S1)
6. Robin Larsson (Robin Larsson, Audi A1)
FIA World Rallycross Championship standings after nine rounds
1. Petter Solberg (SDRX, Citroën DS3), 219 pts
2. Timmy Hansen (Team Peugeot Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX), 182 pts
3. Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Team Sweden, Volkswagen Polo), 156 pts
4. Andreas Bakkerud (OlsbergMSE AB, Ford Fiesta ST), 152 pts
5. Davy Jeanney (Team Peugeot Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX), 146 pts
6. Mattias Ekström (EKS, Audi S1), 139 pts
7. Reinis Nitiss (OlsbergMSE AB Ford Fiest ST), 123 pts
8. Toomas Heikkinen, (Marklund Motorsport, Volkswagen Polo), 109 pts
1. Team Peugeot-Hansen, 328 pts
2. Ford Olsbergs MSE, 275 pts
3. SDRX, 244 pts